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Some (of Many) Parenting Difference and Child Order

There is no question in my mind that child order plays a part in the whole nurture part of the nature/nuture equation. For the record, I'm a true believe in BOTH nature and nuture playing significant roles in childrens' personalities, temperment, behavoir and all that.

Since having the Pookie, I've been noticing some major differences in the ways I have taught things my first born and my second born. I would like to say I'm simply catering to the different ways that my children learn, but that's not it. It is definitely more a matter of child order and the fact that parenting two children is just different than parenting one. I am certain that parenting three or four or more would also be very different from parenting two.

For example, with the Pumpkin I would often ask her to recite things like numbers, the alphabet, words in other languages, animal noises, shapes, colors, etc. I would ask her all the time, and she loved to list the things she knew and answer any questions I asked her (well, on a good day when she wasn't being contrary).

Her nature has always been that she need interaction and attention, especially from adults, and she has always been very verbally advanced. Since her birth order was first born, we were able to give her a lot of the attention she wanted and she had my husband and me to converse with to advance verbal skills. And in order to entertain myself, I would teach her the names and sounds for everything (and I believe my husband did similar).

With the Pookie as a wonderful addition to our family, there is a lot more juggling and chaos in our household. I realized that I don't focus on him in the same way I did with the Pumpkin. I don't naturally sit there and teach him lists of things or quiz him on shapes and colors. I have to really think about teaching and asking him to name things.

His nature is such that he's more content to sit and entertain himself, and he's always thrived with fine motor skills over verbal skills. As the second born, he has his older sister to follow around and learn from, while Londo and I don't have as much time to focus on only him. This is definitely a different dynamic than we had with only one child in the house.

So though there's probably some nature involve, I have definitely nurtured my children's learning in different ways. Sometimes I worry about it, feel a little twinge of that mommy guilt. But mostly, I try to focus on the fact that the Pookie has three people to learn from in the house, and that he's picking up a lot of different skills from all of us. He also learns some things from his sister (who is two years older) that she didn't have the opportunity to learn at his age.

A good example of that is that the Pookie learned how to play pretend really young. I remember when he was just starting to interact with his sister, just starting to sit up and hold things, and she was very into using the play kitchen and pretending to make, serve and eat pretend food. At first, that baby boy looked so confused when she offered him a handful of nothing to eat, but he quickly caught on and pretended to munch on everything she handed him.

Instead of feeling guilty, I am going to keep focusing on the social interaction he gets from his sister and the fact that they are both able to learn a lot from each other. He'll get his share of learning lists and getting quizzed on what he's learned through his school career in the many years to come.


ARC said…
Wow, I was just thinking about this exact issue today in the larger context of the 'do we have another one' conversation. Thank you :)
Anonymous said…
I'm loving that image of confused Pookie. :)
xoxo c.t.
Cloud said…
We're in a similar situation. I also comfort myself with the knowledge that at day care, Petunia is getting the same opportunities Pumpkin had. And we do try to "divide and conquer" a bit- but Petunia and Pumpkin actually both prefer that we do things as a family, so that's what we usually do.
hush said…
I so totally hear you, sister. I've heard stats that firstborns have slightly higher IQ's than their later born siblings, and I'm sad to say I understand the nurture piece of why that may be true. DD is not nearly as advanced verbally as DS was at her age. And we haven't read to her alone nearly as much. And she's had how many toys ripped from her hands by DS - ugh. But she is already doing things at 22-months that DS didn't even begin to master until much later (like using the potty and doing basic chores). She is more of an independent spirit, and I'm glad she gets the benefit of having a sweet older brother to help offset the relative parental 'neglect.' (Wait, neglect is the wrong word. You know what I mean though.)

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